The Hidden Fortress has a 100% critic rating and a 93% audience rating. Everybody likes this movie. Part of the appeal is that it’s known for being source material upon which George Lucas drew when making Star Wars. “If the plot of Hidden Fortress sounds vaguely familiar to you,” notes the Rotten Tomatoes entry, “try this exercise: substitute two robots for Chiaki and Fujiwara, Mark Hamill for Mifune, and Carrie Fisher for Uehara.” True enough. And while knowing this tidbit while watching it certainly adds a bit of interest, Star Wars is in no way a rip off of The Hidden Fortress. The relationships among these characters are more complex than in Star Wars. Matashichi and Tahei, far from being reliable sidekicks for Rokurota, are much more ambiguous in terms of whether they are actually good guys or bad guys, and Rokurota is anything but an inexperienced farm boy set out to learn the ways of the force for the first time. In this sense, the characters are more interesting, particularly in terms of examining their motivations and how they manipulate one another. On the other hand, it’s not nearly as fun as Star Wars either. While it’s got it’s funny parts and is certainly not without action, it lacks the old time serial flair Lucas was able to bring so successfully to the Star Wars films (the older good ones, that is). Don’t get me wrong, both films are great and well worth watching. But they have different strong suits, and I wouldn’t recommend watching Hidden Fortress solely or even primarily to see where Lucas got Star Wars from.
Having said that, there’s also this: Misa Uehara is way more fun as Lady Yukihime than Carrie Fisher is as Princess Leia.